Feeding car-boot lawyers and felons to the lions would be good for fiscal rigour, too

Did that car-boot lawyer taste innocent or guilty, Leo?

Our splendid Government is doing a lot to save just $5 million a year, which just goes to show what a fiscally rigorous lot we are in our endeavours to give taxpayers a better deal.

We will be legislating to curtail a defendant’s rights to this, that and the other as part of changes to the criminal justice system announced yesterday, including (in many cases) the right to a trial by jury.

Cabinet today signed off the 526 page Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill which the Government expects to save about $25 million over five years.

Justice Minister Simon Power said the changes would result in savings of 450 court days each year.

“It’s unacceptable that there are at least 43,000 unnecessary court appearances each year, and that it takes an average of 16 months to complete a jury trial in the High Court and 12 months in the District Court,” Mr Power said.

The report at Stuff lists some of the the reforms:

* Requiring the defence to identify and disclose issues in dispute before a trial, which the government says will save 450 court days a year.

* Allowing the courts to proceed in the absence of a defendant if the court is not satisfied they do not have a reasonable excuse for their absence.

* Requiring the court to impose cost orders against the prosecution, defendant and defence counsel if they fail to comply with a procedural requirement

* Greater flexibility to continue with trials where jury numbers fall to 10

*Ensuring guilty pleas are entered as early as practicable

*Promoting out of court discussions so there are fewer adjournments and shorter hearings

*Reserving jury trials for the most serious and complex cases, including raising the threshold for which defendants can elect for a jury trial.

It’s all about streamlining.

And steamrolling.

We will be running a steamroller over a fundamental element of the common law.

English common law and the United States Constitution recognise the right to a jury trial to be a fundamental civil liberty or civil right that allows the accused to choose whether to be judged by judges or a jury.

But dammit, these bloody trials are slowing things down.

Mr Power said the changes could potentially result in 43,000 fewer court events, 1000 to 1400 fewer cases that need to be designated for trial by jury, 300 to 600 fewer cases that actually proceed to a jury trial, and could shave about 13 weeks off the time it took for a jury trial case to go through the pipeline.

The changes were expected to result in savings of about $24.3 million over a five-year period.

Power says he is a strong believer that justice delayed is justice denied, and his bill will ensure that timely justice is delivered for victims, witnesses, defendants, and the community.

Good stuff.

He said addressing the clogged system by building more courthouses and appointing more judges was simply masking delays and inefficiencies in criminal procedure.

Damned right.

Mind you, we could address the problem by getting rid of all the cops, which would save us a really big lump of money.

No cops, no arrests, no clogging.

But Alf is a law and order bloke. He would much rather we had more cops and thereby caught more bad buggers, even though this would quickly gobble up the $25 million savings from the court streamlining.

So his idea – he will be chatting with Simon Power later in the day – is to dispense with the courts, which means getting rid of all those judges among others.

If someone has been picked up by the cops, it’s because he/she deserved to be picked up by the cops and should be locked up for a very long time.

Even better, they should be shot.

This clearly would take care of the recividism thing that gets people excited.

Alf recommends these more extreme measures because the ones being promoted by Simon Power are small beer.

Dammit, the legal aid system alone is gobbling up massively much more than a piddling $5 million – earlier this year Power said it costs taxpayers more than $100 million a year.

Eighty-five-thousand Kiwis used legal aid last year at a cost to the taxpayer of $131 million. The Government has been told the system is broken – it was being rorted by car boot lawyers.

So catch the car boot lawyers and put them first in line for shooting.

Mind you, Alf won’t quibble if his constituents insist on some other means of dispensing with their services, such as feeding them to the lions at the Wellington Zoo, thereby cutting down on zoo feeding costs.

Come to think of it, all felons could be put to that purpose. From “you are nicked” to “you are lion tucker” would only take the time needed to drive the paddy wagon from arrest site to lion’s den.

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